NCAA Basketball

College Basketball Preview: Louisville vs. Georgetown

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(23)Louisville Cardinals @ (21)Georgetown Hoyas
Verizon Center – Washington, DC
Monday, Jan. 31, 2011
Time: 7:02 pm EST
TV: ESPN Sean McDonough, play-by-play; Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas, analysts
Radio: WHAS (840 AM) Paul Rogers, play-by-play; Bob Valvano, analyst. also: BIG EAST Network/IMG College Brock Bowling, play-by-play; John Celestand, analyst (also SIRIUS ch. 122, XM 143)
Series History: UofL trails 4-6 (2-3 in Louisville, 1-2 in Washington, 1-1 neutral)
Officials: Ed Corbett, John Gaffney, Karl Hess

The Hoyas of Georgetown, after a 1-4 start in BIG EAST play have reeled off four strait conference wins and look to position themselves in the top four in the standings at the half way point of the conference schedule. The Hoyas began their current win streak and got healthy on the likes of Rutgers, Seton Hall and St. John’s. However, their last win was an impressive one indeed – a 69-66 win at Villanova on Saturday.

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Louisville had an impressive showing on Saturday as well, going into Storrs, Connecticut and emerging with a monstrous 79-78 double overtime win over the fifth ranked Huskies.

One of the trademarks of the Georgetown teams led by John Thompson III has been an efficient offense. The Hoyas are second in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting the ball at over 50% on the season. Louisville prides itself on its defense and will need to be at the top of their game again, which is a big surprise given their conference affiliation… However, what has often gone overlooked is the stingy Hoya defense. In the last four years – spanning the team’s last 155 games – only 35 opponents have shot higher than 45 percent from the field against Georgetown.

The Hoyas leading scorer is senior guard and pre-season BIG EAST player of the year Austin Freeman, who’s 18.8 points per game puts him third in the BIG EAST conference. Freeman is one of only 20 players in Georgetown history to start 100 games, Louisville will make start number 107 for the senior. His 30 points in the win over ‘Nova moved him into 11th place on the all-time scorer’s list at Georgetown, just 6 points out of the Top 10 with 1,592 career points.

Freeman’s backcourt mate, Chris Wright is 29th in the nation, averaging 5.6 assists per contest. Wright is also the team’s third leading scorer at 12.1 points per scrap. Junior guard Jason Clark is just ahead of Wright in the scoring column, averaging 12.8 points a game.

Everyone knows the backcourt is the offensive strength of this Hoya team. Through 20 games, the trio of guards have averaged 43.9 points per game, 57.8 percent of the team’s total output. Louisville’s 2-3 matchup zone they employed against UConn may work to slow the Hoyas down, but won’t be ideal in defending the three point shot, something Georgetown does very well, ranking second in the BIG EAST, and 28th in the country in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 39.1 percent from long distance.

Underneath for the Hoyas lurks 6′ 9″ Florida State transfer, the senior forward Julian Vaughn. Vaughn leads the team in rebounding and blocks, pulling down 6.4 boards and swatting 2.2 shots a game. He is really the Hoyas only legit post presence in a guard oriented lineup.

Georgetown, like Louisville is a team that lives and dies by the three point shot. The Hoyas are 9-0 this season when they hit at least eight three-pointers and are 14-0 when they hit at least 33.0 percent of their shots from downtown. They are second in the BIG EAST, behind only Louisville, hitting 7.5 three balls per game.

The Hoyas senior leadership and strong guard play, coupled with Louisville’s injuries and fatigue from their double overtime battle on Saturday will make it extremely tough for the Cardinals to leave DC with another huge road victory.

Georgetown 66, Louisville 62